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Lions Roar : September 2018
The Dalai Lama Gets Vaccinated BARRY KERZIN is the Dalai Lama’s doctor. But who’s healing whom? MEDICALLY TREATING HIGH LAMAS, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is such a great honor and privi- lege that I often pinch myself to check if I am dreaming. But treating them also brings unique and novel challenges. It is rare that a high lama just walks into my “office,” one of the two rooms I have inside His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s compound. Usually, a situation arises, and I just somehow find myself treating a lama. The lama might be orchestrating this, but in a hidden manner. This often happens in the lama’s residence or a monastery, or sometimes in a hospital when I’m performing routine medical investigations. I remember the first time I was called in to do a medical visit with the Dalai Lama. It was twenty-eight years ago. He was planning to travel to Rio de Janeiro for an important inter- national environmental conference. His office discovered there was a cholera outbreak there, so His Holiness asked me if it was safe for him to go. I discussed water and food hygiene, and a somewhat effective vaccine. Later, I heard his famous Tibetan medicine doctor, Tenzin Choedak, told His Holiness not to go. When I heard this I thought, “Good to take in all opinions.” A short time later His Holiness called me in again, and said, “I’ll take the vaccine.” So, I found the purest one I could get my hands on and gave it to him. I was petrified thinking I was drawing blood from a buddha, but I managed to deliver the vaccine smoothly. As I was backing up to leave—it is very rude to show your back—he took my hand and escorted me into the next room where he was engaged in a half-day retreat. In the center was a large table, which was piled with semiprecious stones. Taking my hand, he slowly walked me around clockwise three times. On the outside of the pile of stones were glass shelves filled with Buddhist statues, which he told me about, each in turn. He told me to wait as he examined the pile of stones and carefully removed and offered me one of turquoise and another of quartz. Ever since, I’ve kept the turquoise stone around my neck and the quartz on my altar. It has always seemed to me that while I doctor His Holiness’s physical health, he—more deeply—doctors my life. ♦ DR. BARRY KERZIN, M.D., is a Buddhist monk and the author of No Fear, No Death: The Transformative Power of Compassion. weeserugs.com | 773.908.9009 TRADITIONALLY WOVEN TO LAST LIFETIMES Using 100% Tibetan wool and silk, and traditional techniques that preserve a history and culture, Weese’s contemporary rugs bring elegance to your floors A percentage of proceeds is donated to The International Campaign for Tibet MARCIA WEESE RUGS Hand-carded, hand-spun and hand-knotted by Tibetan refugee women in Nepal. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2018 79